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The Death of a Neighbor

I’m told that he ended his life by sitting in a running car in a closed garage.

My mind can’t help but picture the scene. I see him sitting there with a blank stare, a cigarette in hand, smoking one more time. The radio isn’t on. The space is dark.

A man who had been my neighbor for nearly six years recently committed suicide. A co-worker informed me of his death. At first, I didn’t know who he was talking about. He just described cop cars speeding to a particular house. But as he continued to describe various details surrounding the man’s life, I suddenly asked, “Was his name Joel?” “Yes. It was Joel,” came the reply. I sighed deeply and then said, “He used to be my neighbor.”

An Idea for Family Worship

Lately, I’ve been taking different podcast episodes and chopping them up into bite-sized portions for family worship. We listen for 10-15 minutes and discuss the subject matter, scrutinizing the worldview through a Christian lens. While it isn’t a bible study, per se, I think there is value in introducing teenagers to the various streams of secular thought influencing culture.

Here are a few that might be of interest to you:

• Point of Inquiry: Peter Singer: Maximizing Morality with Reason

• Unbelievable? Does Scripture Forbid Same-Sex Relationships? Robert Gagnon vs Jayne Ozanne

• Evan May, pastor at Lakeview Christian Center in New Orleans, has given us an excellent presentation on the problem of evil. It will provide a good framework for further discussion. This is more advanced, and so it should only be used with older children.

Life Outside the Circle

It is no mere coincidence that when God is rejected virtue and pleasure depart. God is the ultimate source of such things, the fountainhead from which we all partake, reflecting and mirroring as image bearers.

Sin tragically results in separation. When Adam and Eve fell, they were cast from the garden. When Israel sinned, the land vomited them out. When we are saved, we are said to be “in Christ,” a description denoting profound proximity. But before we were made new, the language was different. Distance takes over. “You were once far away…” says Paul, “alienated” and “excluded.” No reconciliation. No closeness. Strangers. Enmity.

Now picture a circle. Write in that circle things like joy, holiness, peace, righteousness, goodness, life, love, justice, truth, beauty. The circle is God. Now stand back and consider the two realms of possibility. There is the circle and there is that which resides outside the circle.

If all joy and righteousness is found inside the circle, what is there to be found outside the circle? Not joy. Not righteousness. Since every last drop of joy exists in the circle, its utter absence resides outside.

But it is more than that. It is not as if the absence of joy […]

The Wisdom of God Displayed in the Way of Salvation – Jonathan Edwards

“One end why God suffered Satan to do what he did in procuring the fall of man, was that his Son might be glorified in conquering that strong, subtle, and proud spirit, and triumphing over him. How glorious doth Christ Jesus appear in baffling and triumphing over this proud king of darkness, and all the haughty confederate rulers of hell. How glorious a sight is it to see the meek and patient Lamb of God leading that proud, malicious, and mighty enemy in triumph! What songs doth this cause in heaven! It was a glorious sight in Israel to see David carrying the head of Goliath in triumph to Jerusalem. It appeared glorious to the daughters of Israel, who came out with timbrels and with dances, and sang, ‘Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.’ But how much more glorious to see the Son of David, the Son of God, carrying the head of the spiritual Goliath, the champion of the armies of hell, in triumph to the heavenly Jerusalem! It is with a principle view to this, that Christ is called, ‘The Lord of hosts, or armies, and a man of war,” Exod. xv.3.  And Psal. […]

Is Discrimination a Bad Word?

Well, is it?

There’s been a lot talk about Indiana as of late, which I’m sure you’ve heard about, unless of course you’re a hermit; which if that is the case, you probably aren’t reading this post.

Either way, let me ask the question again. Is discrimination a bad word?

It depends, doesn’t it?

Let’s say that I’m a photographer. And into my shop walks:

A) A heterosexual couple
B) A grandmother looking to marry her sixteen year old grandson
C) A brother and sister in their early twenties wanting to get married
D) Two men and a woman wanting to get married
E) A man and four women wanting to get married
F) An older gentlemen wanting to marry his dog
G) Two women wanting to get married
H) Two men wanting to get married

Which of these, and upon what basis, do you happily agree to shoot (with a camera!), utilizing all the skills in your repertoire to capture their joy with both professional quality and artistic flare?

If the photographer is a Christian, he or she may want to decline the job. Why? The Christian views marriage as a holy covenant and holy institution established by God. Not only is it limited by the Creator of the universe, being […]

The Quest for the Historical Adam – GenRef Podcast

It was our pleasure to sit down with Dr. William VanDoodewaard, author of the new work The Quest for the Historical Adam.

With the eye of a historian and the care of a theologian, Dr. VanDoodewaard has produced a book of considerable importance. He tackles the question of Adam and Eve head on, bringing to the discussion both scholarly insight and an even hand. The book cannot come more highly recommended.

Join us as we dip into the subject!

The Benefits and Joys of Christian Meditation

In a paper exploring The Puritan Practice of Meditation, Joel Beeke helpfully summarizes a number of biblical findings.  Let this be an encouragement and enticement to us all.

Meditation helps us focus on the Triune God, to love and to enjoy Him in all His persons (1 John 4:8)—intellectually, spiritually, aesthetically.
Meditation helps increase knowledge of sacred truth. It “takes the veil from the face of truth” (Prov. 4:2).
Meditation is the “nurse of wisdom,” for it promotes the fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:8).
Meditation enlarges our faith by helping us to trust the God of promises in all our spiritual troubles and the God of providence in all our outward troubles.
Meditation augments one’s affections. Watson called meditation “the bellows of the affections.” He said, “Meditation hatcheth good affections, as the hen her young ones by sitting on them; we light affection at this fire of meditation” (Ps. 39:3).
Meditation fosters repentance and reformation of life (Ps. 119:59; Ez. 36:31).
Meditation is a great friend to memory.
Meditation helps us view worship as a discipline to be cultivated. It makes us prefer God’s house to our own.
Meditation transfuses Scripture through the texture of the soul.
Meditation is a great aid to prayer […]

A Question to Ponder

Acts 23:1-5 reads,

“And looking intently at the council, Paul said, ‘Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.’ And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, ‘God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?’ Those who stood by said, ‘Would you revile God’s high priest?’ And Paul said, ‘I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’””

Paul certainly deemed it inappropriate to speak to the high priest the way he did. But what if the exact same thing happened and it wasn’t the high priest who ordered Paul to be struck? Would Paul’s sharp words have been appropriate? In other words, did Paul speak sinfully here? Or could it be that there is a place for such imprecations today (or is the word imprecation too strong in this instance)? And if so, then how does this […]

Some Curious Admissions From Sam Harris

While hanging out with the guys over at Very Bad Wizards, an atheistic podcast that discusses morality, philosophy and culture, Sam Harris made some fascinating comments…shall I say concessions?

As one of the leading atheists of our day, Sam Harris isn’t shy about sharing his feelings about God. Not surprisingly, he spends a fair bit of time attacking the judgments of God, calling God a moral monster and the like. One need only listen to his debate with William Lane Craig on morality. Just go the 54 minute mark to get a taste.

Now what is fascinating to me is how, on the one hand, Sam Harris can decry the judgments of God with resolute certainty, but then turn around and express caveats and nuances that directly undermine those same condemnations.

What do I mean?

Let me provide a number of quotes from episode 63 of Very Bad Wizards to illustrate the matter. Each will serve as a kind of tent peg grounding an overall point.(1)

Tent Peg #1, It all Comes Down to Consequences

• 1:21:00ish, Tamler: “This is what makes me so suspicious. There is always some reason why the thing that is your intuition ends up working for the best consequences. […]